January Is Full of Suspense

Explore January new releases that will keep you up late trying to figure out what will happen next. These tales include small town secrets, a long-missing twin, royal secrets and eccentric characters.

1. Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Two different artists in two different time periods are connected to a mystery in the same small town. The story begins in 2018 with Morgan Christopher serving a 3-year sentence in a North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. She is offered a chance for immediate release if she agrees to restore an old post office mural in the small town of Edenton, North Carolina. She accepts this opportunity to try to get her life and art career back on track. In the restoration process she uncovers the original mural and it’s story of madness, violence and small town secrets.

Anna Dale painted the original mural in 1940 after winning a national art contest. Anna traveled from New Jersey where she was alone and desperate for work to Edenton. She found a town with deep prejudices, secrets and maybe murder. Can Morgan figure our what happened to Anna from the clues in the mural?

“Chamberlain’s depictions of creative beauty and perseverance across time and in the face of inevitable obstacles will keep readers turning the pages.”—Publishers Weekly

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2. How Quickly She Disappears by Raymon Fleischmann

Twenty years ago Elisabeth’s twin sister, Jacqueline, disappeared. They were only 10. Now Elisabeth may have a way to find her sister. Alfred, a dangerous stranger, says he knows what happened to Jacqueline. He’s willing to share the truth if Elisabeth will fulfill his three requests.

Elisabeth is obsessed with finding her sister or at least finding what happened to her. She’s willing to put herself and her family in danger to learn the truth.

“Raymond Fleischmann has blessed us with the rarest of gifts, a novel paced like a thriller but written with the aching grace of literary fiction. A gorgeously dark, harrowing debut.”— Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Lock Every Door

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3. The Secret Guests by Benjamin Black

During World War II parents sent more than 3 million British children to the countryside for safety. This included the British royal family who secretly moved the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret to the Duke of Edenmore’s estate in “neutral” Ireland. A female English secret agent, Miss Celia Nashe, and a young Irish detective, Garda Stafford are assigned to watch over “Ellen” and Mary” at Clonmills Hall.

Soon staff at the estate and townspeople begin to be suspicious about the true identities of these guests. Meanwhile the princesses are bored and homesick. Celia and Garda are working hard to keep the secret and keep their charges safe while Irish-English relations are tested by the war.

“As ever, Black’s gifts of rich description and deft characterization are on display, and if the first half of the novel is more leisurely than a typical political thriller, its second half positively gallops. When you’re done binge-watching The Crown, pick up this multifaceted wartime thriller.” – Kirkus Reviews

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4. Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes

“A collection of wonderfully warped characters is on display in this dark, entertaining comedy.

At the Heart of America, the largest year-round antiques mall in Kansas, the tacky postcards, decorative sugar bowls, and vinyl copies of Whipped Cream & Other Delights might be in fine condition, but the dealers are all slightly damaged, or worse. There’s uptight and very white Margaret, who disdainfully judges new dealers by their stock (“There were artifacts and then there were knickknacks. There were knickknacks and then there was junk”). Delores, whose Barbies are wayyyyy closer to her than anybody realizes. Desperately hopeful mall owner Keith, who’s struggling with his eBay-addicted wife, Stacey, and hilariously bitter college-age daughter, Ellie. Seymour and Lee, whose relationship might not survive their recent move from Cambridge, Massachusetts. And Ronald, the awkward widower who’s got something extremely unusual hidden in storage.

These eccentric losers may not always be likable, but they are delightfully readable. Geddes (I Am a Magical Teenage Princess, 2012) dissects their obsessions while acerbically, and knowingly, eviscerating collectors in general and Wichita in particular. (“In truth, Seymour felt more a victim of discrimination here as someone who preferred to walk or take public transportation than as a gay man. Which was not to say he and Lee didn’t get ugly looks on occasion. But he soon realized that here everyone got that look.”) The barbs can be cruel, and things wrap up in a way that could generously be considered perfunctory. By that point, fans of snarky, bizarre humor will have laughed enough that most won’t complain.

Readers who’ve gasped at a record-bin discovery or elbowed someone out of the way at an estate sale will enjoy this find.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Geddes’s debut is a surreal, hilarious, but humane reckoning with America today: its consumerism, its culture, its nostalgia, its crap. A must-read for the hoarder in us all.”–Jen Beagin, author of Pretend I’m Dead and Vacuum in the Dark

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5. When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

Zelda is 21 years old, loves Vikings, lives with her older brother, Gert, and has some very specific rules:

1. A smile means thank you for doing something small that I liked.
2. Fist bumps and dabs = respect.
3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home.
4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet.
5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.

When Zelda discovers Gert may be involved in illegal activity to keep them afloat, she decides to help as any Viking warrior would. She is determined to be a hero and a legend

“A sweet, funny, dark, roller coaster ride of a book, about two unforgettable siblings trying to help each other grow up. Zelda is an entirely original character, a young woman with a cognitive disability, trying hard to navigate life on her own terms. But it’s her loving thug of a brother, Gert, that stole my heart. A wonderful book that’s less a novel than a movement, proving we can all be heroes of our own stories.” –Lisa Gabriele, bestselling author of The Winters

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Jennifer Jones

I’m the library’s fiction selector and I’ve been suggesting new books to library and bookmobile customers for over 17 years. I keep up on all the new book reviews, and my favorite question is “What are you reading?” I love to talk about books and to read books. I like to tell library customers, “Try something new. If you don’t like it, at least the price is right!”